Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bishop's Adjutant, Armour Bearer

The Adjutancy was established in 1970 by an African American Pentecostal Bishop named J. (Jessie) Delano Ellis, II, while serving in The Church of God in Christ. Bishop Ellis saw the need to create a “corp of men” (later women were included) to serve those significant areas that would provide an “assist” to the Supreme Leaders of the Church, namely the Bishops. Later, with the increasing growth of the Office of the Apostle (some believing that this office is the highest ranking spiritual office in the Body of Christ), apostolic adjutants were also added to the corps of generals.

PROTOCOL: Many pastors now have adjutants because they have erroneously COPIED from higher ranking officials, often desiring the servitude and honor given to these high ranking officials, but not understanding the concept and protocol of such. Because an adjutant is assigned to the highest ranking official of the church in general, pastors should not have adjutants, but assistants, aids, deacons, and "armour bearers" (if they understand that terminology and what it REALLY means).

Adjutants are reserved for duly consecrated and ordained Episcopates (Bishops and Apostles with a Bishopric or Apostolic See).

The term Adjutant was not developed or established by Bishop J. Delano Ellis. The term is an old one most often used in the military. What exactly is an adjutant? Many people in the church have ignorantly copied this term, thinking that it is only someone who carries the pastors bags, drives them around, or is a "gopher" for them.

Let us look at the etemology of this word:

Adjutant \Ad"ju*tant\, n. [L. adjutans, p. pr. of adjutare to

help. See

Hence, and adjutant is:

A helper; an assistant.

  • In the Military, it is: A regimental staff officer, who assists the
        colonel, or commanding officer of a garrison or regiment,
in the details of regimental and garrison duty.

  •     an officer who acts as military assistant to a more senior officer
  • Adjutant is a military rank or appointment.
  • In some armies it is an officer who assists a more senior officer, while in other armies it is a rank, which normally corresponds roughly to a Commonwealth Staff Sergeant or Warrant Officer.
   The Adjutant General -  (Military), the principal staff officer of an army, through
whom the commanding general receives
communications and issues military orders

It is from this principle that Bishop Ellis derived the term and office of the adjutantcy.

However, it is nothing new within the Church, particularly the Catholic Church, and some churches in the East. In fact, Catholic Bishops already had such a designation --that is COADJUTOR--which is also an aid or assistant to a high ranking official. In Catholicism, the coadjutor is an assistant to a Bishop. The term means "co-worker", "assistant", a "helper", "aid" or "supporter".

A coadjutor is one who contributes to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose.

Thus, a coadjutor does his or her ministration so that a high ranking official may finish his or her designated work. This is precisely what, by principle and function, an adjutant does.

In Protestantism, it is "adjutant", and in Catholicism, it is "coadjutor:--same office, same function, same qualities and characteristics.

Within the Adjutancy, is the need to exercise the greatest tact, piety, dignity, timeliness, confidentiality and non-familiarity. This role also required that of maintaining the best social relationships with peers and superiors. Currently, at the Pentecostal Church of Christ, where Bishop Ellis serves as Senior Pastor, there are two main facets of the Adjutancy.

The primary role an Adjutant in the church (especially in Pentecostal circles) is to sanctify the leader in the eyes of the people (as Joshua and Caleb did for Moses), create a positive atmosphere for the leader and the people, and to oversee the vestments of all Priests and Levites.

Within the Adjutancy as developed by Bishop Ellis, there are four divisions, the first being the Verger who is responsible for the processional cross and the torches (when needed), and for the transportation of the Shepard staff. Secondly, the Adjutant Chamberlain is responsible for the care and selection of the Episcopal Vestments, maintaining the Episcopal Chamber and for the color coordination with the Ecclesiastical year. Third, the Adjutant is responsible for the escort and assist of the Bishops, Overseers and/or the executive guests. The last division is the Adjutant Apostolic.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Clergy by First Name?

What? The West has gone mad!!!

This is a conclusion drawn by some of my African pastors during a recent conversation about church protocol. In other regions of the world, high ranking clergy are often revered. They are shown the highest respect when addressed and greeted by their followers. In several parts of Africa, the Middle East, and India, various body postures are engaged in the moment an authority figure approaches. This concept is very biblical. The common way in which we refer to our high ranking officials here in the U.S. would be considered totally unacceptable to these peoples.

In America, for example, many people refer to clergy persons, their pastors, "televangelists" and bishops by first name. I remember a time when we could identify clergy by their attire. In the community, many ministers wore suits or clergy collars. Today, however, many clergy have moved away from that...this stemmed from a movement initiated by predominantly charismatic circles. This was done to make the clergy appear to be more "human" and touchable. But has this backfired? Positively correlated to this "familiarity" is the rise of crime and immorality.

America as whole has succumbed to this form of "familiarity" and disrespect. If you are over 35, (especially in those within tribal and African American communities), you may remember when we said, "Yes Ma'am", and "No Sir"---these were entitlements of respect (just as calling Jesus "LORD" was an entitlement of great honor and esteem in His day). You can also remember when people referred to your parents, they referred to them as Mrs. and Mr. But now when bill collectors call your house, they ask for you by first name, as though they know you in an intimate or close relationship. Calling one by his or her first name was a indication of being in a close, personal, and intimate relationship. It also connoted equality and sameness with regard to rank, age, or function. There is an old saying that somehow seems to ring true, "familiarity breeds contempt".

Ok, let's sit down a minute and think about this rationally for a moment.

When it comes to spiritual leaders, many people in the church have begun to pick up the ways of the world, and now refer to their pastors or other high ranking religious figures by their first name (as though they are equal in rank and function to them). This is not advantageous as "familiarity breeds content". Who goes around calling the President of the USA (at least publicly) "George"? It would be considered a breach of protocol. Why?--because of the weight and rank of his position. The higher the authority, the greater the protocol. The greater the protocol, the greater the consequences when that protocol is violated. OK, here's the BOTTOM LINE:

It is a gross breach of ecclesiastical protocol to address
clergy persons by their first names--with or without a title!!!

It is unconscionable to think that high ranking officials like bishops and apostles are also being referred to on a first name basis. Are they no less public servants of God than the President? Interestingly, we rarely hear high ranking bishops, Cardinals, or the Pope in the Catholic church referred to by first name. Most all forms of western Christianity were adapted from Catholicism, but it seems we did not adhere very long to their idea of clergy respect and protocol. In protestantism, there is little respect for high ranking clergy persons. In the Christian church, our leaders, just like parents, officers of the law, school teachers, and the like should be honored and respected, even in terms of how we address and salute them. Can you imagine being in a court of law and referring to the judge by first name? Certainly not, he or she is entitled "your honor" because of their authority, power, and rank.

Just as in most families, it is unacceptable to refer to parents and grandparents by first name, under no circumstance is it acceptable for lay people or fellow clergy (especially lower ranking,) to refer to religious leaders by first name. While it is common in many non-denominational circles to refer to pastors by their title plus first name, this too is a breach of ecclessiastical protocol. While we may honor the leader's preference for title + first name, we should understand that it is not proper protocol and should not, therefore, be used with other pastors and leaders outside of that local assembly or organization.

The fault of Christianity is that many of its adherents simply copy ignorance from others because it is popular without properly researching or discerning doctrines, dogmas, and practices. Many Christians do not think there are ANY rules or principles which guide our thinking and behaviors. This is due in part to unbalanced teaching and dogma about "grace" in the New Testament Church.

Of course, we often hear it erroneously proclaimed, "Jesus had no title, Paul had no title..." NOT! When the scriptures detail conversations between Jesus and others, Jesus was often referred to with a title (e.g. Rabbi, Rabboni, Master Teacher, Son of Man, etc). Paul would always refer to himself in his alleged writings as Apostle. We now refer to Jesus, who to many, is God himself by an earthly name, with no title. Not at all the way Jesus referred to his God....

We simply do not know proper protocol when it comes to religious leaders.

We have become far too influenced by what is culturally popular to "put a difference between clean and unclean--holy and unholy". Clergy should be addressed in formal and common settings by their title followed by their last name. This is proper protocol. No Bishop should ever be addressed by title and first name--by title and last name only.

Ecclesiastical and Episcopal Protocol:
Entitlement and Salutatory Address

In formal settings, and high services, it is proper to refer to Bishops as His or Her Grace, and if they are the highest ranking official in a given denomination or organization, Her or His Eminence is the proper entitlement. This is done to distinguish her or his ranking among other bishops. Apostles who are also episcopates (duly consecrated bishops) may also receive those same designations.

Written salutations should definitely follow this same protocol. In academic, community, or certain ecumenical services, Bishops may be referred to as, "The Right Reverend" with the highest ranked Bishop in any given recognized organization, as "The Most Reverend" (that is, providing non-scriptural term 'Reverend' is not offensive to that Bishop). Understand that we must deal with the general public and our culture where they are and try to pull them up to a greater understanding of spiritual things.

Remember, "Familiarity breeds contempt